Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pseudonym Mark Twain, was born in the small village of Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835, as the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens.
Twain was an American writer and humorist who has been called the “greatest humorist this country has produced”, and “the father of American literature”.
His famous novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884),
Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother.
In 1857, the 21-year-old Twain fulfilled his dream of learning how to pilot a steamboat on the Mississippi. After obtaining a license as a steamboat pilot in 1859, he found regular employment.
Twain loved his career, however his service was cut short in 1861 by the outbreak of the Civil War which eliminated most civilian traffic on the river.
In July 1861 headed for Nevada and California, where he would live for the next five years hoping to find silver and gold. However, it didn’t work out, and by the middle of 1862, he was flat broke and in need of a regular job.
Later that year, he went to work as a reporter for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, where he adopted the pen name Mark Twain — steamboat slang for 12 feet of water.
His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County“, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard. The short story brought international attention.
In 1867 he took a five-month sea cruise in the Mediterranean, writing humorously about the sights for American newspapers. Out of the trip he published a book in 1869, The Innocents Abroad that became a nationwide bestseller. At 34, he had become one of the most popular and famous writers in America.
Twain earned a large amount of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it, until he filed for bankruptcy. He later paid all his creditors in full, even if he didn’t have to.
Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well; and in fact, he died the day after the comet returned, on April 21, 1910.
My 50 Favorite Quotes from Mark Twain
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect).” ― Mark Twain
“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain
“′Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” ― Mark Twain
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ― Mark Twain
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” ― Mark Twain
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” ― Mark Twain
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” ― Mark Twain
“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” ― Mark Twain
“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” ― Mark Twain
“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.” ― Mark Twain
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” ― Mark Twain
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” ― Mark Twain
“Books are for people who wish they were somewhere else.” ― Mark Twain
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” ― Mark Twain
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain
“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” ― Mark Twain
“If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re mis-informed.” ― Mark Twain
“Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.” ― Mark Twain
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” ― Mark Twain
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ― Mark Twain
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ― Mark Twain
“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” ― Mark Twain
“Education: the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty.” ― Mark Twain
“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up.” ― Mark Twain
“Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” ― Mark Twain
“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ― Mark Twain
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. ” ― Mark Twain
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ― Mark Twain
“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” ― Mark Twain
“A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.” ― Mark Twain
“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” ― Mark Twain
“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” ― Mark Twain
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” ― Mark Twain
“A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.” ― Mark Twain
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” ― Mark Twain
“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain
“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” ― Mark Twain
“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” ― Mark Twain
“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.” ― Mark Twain
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” ― Mark Twain
“I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.” ― Mark Twain
“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.” ― Mark Twain
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” ― Mark Twain
“It takes your enemy and your friend, working together, to hurt you to the heart: the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.” ― Mark Twain
“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” ― Mark Twain
“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt” ― Mark Twain